Claire McDowell - Rotten Tomatoes

Claire McDowell

Highest Rated:   100% Three Comrades (1938)
Lowest Rated:   67% Reap the Wild Wind (1942)
Birthday:  
Birthplace:   Not Available
Descended from an old, well-established performing family, American actress Claire McDowell was one of those weathered character players who seemed to have been born at the age of 50. Only 32 years old when she first stepped before Billy Bitzer's camera at Biograph studios in 1910, Ms. McDowell almost immediately found herself playing everyone's mother. She spent the next four years working for D.W. Griffith before retiring to raise a family; her husband was fellow Griffith player Charles Hill Mailes. Back in films in 1917, McDowell continued her celluloid maternal career. Perhaps her most celebrated matriarchal role was as John Gilbert's mother in The Big Parade (1924), in which she has an unbearably poignant scene as she embraces her amputee son, recalling in flashback when her infant boy took his first steps. Ms. McDowell also has some potent sequences as Ramon Novarro's mother in Ben-Hur; stricken with leprosy, she dares not embrace her sleeping son, but instead kisses the stones upon which he lies. Semi-retired when talkies came in, Claire McDowell occasionally emerged to play bits, often in the company of her husband (as in Murder By Television [1935]). One of her last last notable roles, albeit unbilled, was as the ailing mother (again!) who faints on the bus in It Happened One Night (1934).

Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT BOX OFFICE YEAR
No Score Yet Phantom Express
  • Ma Nolan
2032
No Score Yet Adventure
  • Woman in library
1945
No Score Yet Black Market Rustlers
  • Mrs. Prescott
1943
67% Reap the Wild Wind
  • Ettie
1942
No Score Yet Doctor Kildare Goes Home
  • Nurse
1940
No Score Yet Idiot's Delight
  • Mother
1939
100% Three Comrades
  • Frau Zalewska
1938
No Score Yet High, Wide and Handsome
  • Seamstress
1937
No Score Yet Small Town Girl (One Horse Town)
  • Bit in Bed
1936
No Score Yet August Week-End
  • Alma Washburne
1936
No Score Yet Murder by Television
  • Mrs. Houghland
1935
100% Imitation of Life
  • Teacher
1934
No Score Yet Doctor Monica
  • Miss Bryerly
1934
98% It Happened One Night
  • Mother
1934
88% Wild Boys of the Road (Dangerous Days)
  • Mrs. Smith
1933
No Score Yet By Appointment Only
  • Actor
1933
No Score Yet The Working Man
  • Stenographer
1933
No Score Yet Central Airport
  • Mrs. Blaine
1933
No Score Yet By Appointment Only
  • Mrs. Mary Carroll
1933
No Score Yet Cornered
  • Actor
1932
No Score Yet The Strange Love of Molly Louvain
  • Mrs. Schiller
1932
No Score Yet An American Tragedy
  • Mrs. Samuel Griffiths
1931
No Score Yet Mother's Cry
  • Mary's Mother
1930
83% The Big House
  • Mrs. Marlowe
1930
No Score Yet The Show-Off
  • Mom Fisher
1926
100% Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ
  • Princess of Hur
1926
100% The Big Parade
  • Mrs. Apperson
1925
No Score Yet West-Bound Limited
  • Actor
1923
No Score Yet Penrod
  • Mrs. Schofield
1922
No Score Yet Heart's Haven
  • May Caroline Laird
1922
No Score Yet Love Never Dies
  • Liz Trott
1921
88% The Mark of Zorro
  • Doña Catalina
1920
No Score Yet Something to Think About
  • Housekeeper
1920
No Score Yet The Jack Knife Man
  • Liz Merdin
1920
No Score Yet Heart O' the Hills
  • Actor
1919

Quotes from Claire McDowell's Characters

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